Future Tech Buyers Have New Expectations From Your Sales Org

March 29, 2017

When it comes to technology buying, today’s Millennial and Gen X decision-makers demand more from sales reps than ever before. Gone are the days of purchasing new solutions without full and informed support from key players in IT, finance, marketing, operations, and business development. In fact, the size of committees involved in deciding, influencing, and implementing new technology across the enterprise continually grows as solutions become more complex.

Diving further into this theme today on the blog, we unpack what our latest research on the future technology buying committee means for sellers and marketers of technology solutions. Read on for important takeaways — and make sure to review our previous post detailing marketing strategies to win over and care for decision-makers and influencers across both generations.

Start by Knowing Your Evolving Buyer(s)

Research continues to show growth in the number of people and functions that play a role in researching, selecting, implementing, and renewing new technology solutions, and we saw this echoed in our findings: an average of more than four people are now involved in enterprise-level technology decisions and more than seven  are involved in B2B purchases.

But there were some surprising findings about the makeup of today’s buying committee in our data, challenging the traditional thinking that enterprise organizations are siloed and hierarchical. Our research found that Millennial and Gen X members of the buying committee are split between internal-facing (ie. IT, finance, operations) and external-facing (ie. marketing, business development, sales) roles. And, our data highlighted the strength of their influence over the technology purchase decision:

  • Gen Xers (48%) are more likely to be leaders, especially when it comes to making formal business decisions.
  • However, Millennials (41%) are just as likely to provide input on tech purchases or implement a new product/service as their Gen X counterparts.
  • More than half of Younger Millennials (61%) contribute to their companies’ technology purchases — and one in three is already a decision-maker.
  • And Millennials are gaining ground, with 68% of Older Millennials contributing to decisions and 54% of Younger Millennials doing the same.

For marketers, this means that to effectively sell, it’s imperative not to overlook influential client colleagues outside of IT. Are you reaching out to all of them?

Lend Expertise and Support

From a sales perspective, always keep in mind that there are a broad range of members and generations lending an influential voice to the final decision. Our findings found consistency across generations in their proclivity to:

  • Ask colleagues for advice about technology products or services
  • Share opinions about technology with friends outside work
  • Recommend technology products or services to coworkers
  • Provide thoughts or recommendations on business technology products or services

And, according to a recent survey by CEB and Harvard Business Review, while B2B buyers may be more informed than ever, they’re still deeply stressed and uncertain. This is largely due to the wealth of available data, a raft of stakeholders involved in each purchase, and an ever-expanding array of options that stall the adoption of new technology altogether. To make buying easier, ensure that customers have the information, cases, and testimonials, needed to guide their decision-making and lay out a suite of options continually adjusted as customer demand evolves.

Millennial Nuances are Opportunities, Not Impediments

Across the board for all generations, nearly three-quarters (73%) say decision-makers at their company are open to input on purchases, yet only (56%) say their company stays up to date with technology. Tech marketers can turn this into a unique opportunity to be of value.

Understand where these tech-savvy generations are feeling a lack — they have grown to expect continuous tech advancements and have low tolerance for processes that impede their momentum. They are also comfortable using many access channels, devices and technologies that allow them to resolve issues without contacting support. If you reach them where they are and share your expert knowledge, you will gain their trust and respect.

However, be careful that you’re not missing the mark, or it can be detrimental — while Millennials will happily roll up their sleeves to look for information themselves, they will also feel more frustrated if you fail to provide the appropriate resources at the right time.

Millennial and Gen X Buyers Expect Reps to Excel at Social Selling

As our findings told, personalization remains vital, yet respondents of all ages are less than impressed with their average sales rep’s capabilities. Across all generations, when considering tech products/services, technology buyers prefer sales reps who: understand their business needs/roles (90%) and provide relevant content (78%).

Consider this as well: approximately three in five tech buyers want their reps to use LinkedIn for social selling actions. Globally, the majority of technology buyers (72%) say that is is important that their sales rep demonstrates key social selling behaviors across four distinct categories: having a professional brand, having a network of trusted connections, taking a relevant approach to the sale and leveraging valuable insights.

While all generations are increasingly in agreement on these points, Millennials, particularly Younger Millennials, exceedingly value:

  • Reps who share content applicable to their roles (80% — compared to 78% of Older Millennials and 76% of Gen Xers)
  • Personalized communications (78% — compared to 73% of Older Millennials and 68% of Gen Xers)
  • Having connections in common (59% — compared to 50% of Older Millennials and 42% of Gen Xers)

Actionable Takeaways for Tech Sales Professionals

Your buyers are changing: Millennials are active, engaged and prominent in the buying committee — so don’t overlook them in sales outreach. Remember that those responsible for onboarding new tech are likely also responsible for tech renewal, so it’s crucial to adjust your approach to account for these complex needs, both along the purchase cycle and post-purchase.

As buyers, Millennials and Gen Xers need to know you care — ensure the content and insights you’re sharing with buyer contacts is relevant, personalized and genuine. If you want to truly gain their trust bring data-driven insights or outcomes straight from their peers that add new and unexpected value for buyers in consideration.

Set yourself apart from the competition and understand enterprise buyers are looking to you for help. Take a social selling approach to convey a strong network of connections and demonstrate you’re knowledgeable about a buyer’s business. Align sales and marketing to more effectively nurture and care for customers, with consideration for tech buyers’ preferences for content and social selling.

Armed with this knowledge, sales professionals have an opportunity to be more useful than the competition. Ready to put these insights into action? Take a deeper look at “The Future Buying Committee: Millennials and Gen X Decision Makers Achieving MORE, Together.”